Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Long May It Ride

A Hangover from Karl Marx 

The union movement is an antediluvian relic--at least in New Zealand.  The movement was decimated when compulsory membership was removed from the statute books.  The system used to be that if you worked in certain industries, you had to be a union member.  Now the unions had lots of rationalisations for such an undemocratic, oppressive system.  There were mumblings about "equalizing" the disproportionately weak powers of the employee class versus the capitalist class that did the employing.

But all of these arguments amounted to one thing: the unions knew that they did not have sufficient popular support amongst the "working classes", or the proletariat (to use a Marxist term).  To survive, the union leadership knew the proletariat required to be forced to become union members.  When union membership became voluntary in 1991, with the passing of the Employment Contracts Act, union ranks depleted more rapidly than an melting ice-cream at high noon in the summer equinox.

But the unions, whilst greatly diminished, clung on.  They have sought to return to the "old glory days" of compulsion.  They have tried to push their case--not with workers and employees as one would expect--but with the Labour Party.  But even within that relic of a bygone era they could not find sufficient support.  They had to queer the pitch, so to speak.
 Their influence and control over the Labour Party has been set in stone by the constitution of that party.   When voting for a new leader, the unions get 20% of the vote.  But, and note this, it is not the union members that vote the union block, it is the union bosses.  One can never rely upon the prols to vote the right way.

Andrew Little, the former Labour leader, has just fallen on his sword, seven weeks out from a general election.  Labour's polling numbers were slipping by the day.  One of the reasons is that Little was bound to push pet policies of his masters--that is, union functionaries.  The great mass of the voting public find such policies irrelevant, strange, and from another world.

Now, some within that Party are questioning the strangle-hold held on that Party by the union bosses.
In 2014, Little got 75 per cent of the union's 20 per cent vote share. In the final result, he got 50.52 per cent to Robertson's 49.48 per cent.  University of Otago public law specialist Prof Andrew Geddis said it was a matter for the party, but the unions' involvement was problematic.  ''The problem is, it's not the members of the unions who [vote], it's the officials within the unions. It's not a popular choice by union members.'' [NZ Herald]
The unions are a relic from an ancient past.  By keeping the Labour Party in tow they weaken it electorally.  Long may it continue, many would argue.

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